'Set Me Free Why Don't You Babe' Song Meaning & Lyrics To 'You Keep Me Hangin' On' By The Supremes

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
The Supremes, 1968. From left, Diana Ross, Cindy Birdsong, and Mary Wilson. They wear dresses used during their European tour dates of that year. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

"Set me free, why don't you babe / Get out my life, why don't you babe" -- so begins the Supremes' 1966 chart-topper "You Keep Me Hangin' On." For mid-'60s commercial pop, this is a desperate, raw and even scary track. Our narrator is at the end of her rope, having lost all agency in her life and begging for her tormentor to cut her loose because she can't bring herself to do it. Unlike previous Supremes hits, this one is propelled by a relentless rock drumbeat, giving us hardly a moment to catch our breath between verse, chorus and verse -- despite the always sugary-sweet vocals from Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, this is a swirling, disorienting song. If you find yourself a bit emotionally drained by the time its three minute are up, you're not alone.